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DU Health Educator Honored for Celebrating Birthdays of Homeless Women in the Pittsburgh Community

Eileen Crossey, Duquesne University health educator in the Office of Health Service, has been honored by the Bethlehem Haven/Miryam Center for her tireless efforts on behalf of homeless women.

Crossey’s long-standing relationship with Bethlehem Haven began in January 2000. Taking advantage of the opportunity to aid homeless women in the community, Crossey began making Birthday Bags to celebrate the often-unrecognized birthdays of women in the shelter. Each month, Crossey and her team of volunteers go to the shelter with at least eight bags of birthday presents and a birthday cake to celebrate the birthdays of the women at the shelter. Over the last 11 years, more than 140 cakes have been served and 5,600-plus presents have been distributed.

“Working at Bethlehem Have gives me, as well as the students who volunteer, a sense of fulfillment because we are helping the women gain self-esteem,” Crossey said.

More than 70 departments and student organizations at Duquesne are involved in aiding the women of Bethlehem Haven, said Crossey. Many of the volunteers are Duquesne students, especially young women. Often, until they are involved, the students do not realize that many of the homeless women in the shelter are around the same age as them, and that the shelter is located just down the street from Duquesne’s campus on Fifth Avenue.

Crossey said she believes it’s important for Duquesne students to have the experience of volunteering at the shelter because it gives them the opportunity to put the University’s Mission into action by serving the community.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic research universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. The University is nationally ranked by U.S. News and World Report and the Princeton Review for its rich academic programs in nine schools of study for nearly 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students, and by the Washington Monthly for service and contributing to students' social mobility. Duquesne is a member of the U.S. President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction for its contributions to Pittsburgh and communities around the globe. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Princeton Review's Guide to Green Colleges acknowledge Duquesne's commitment to sustainability.